Korir’s Tokyo 2020 golden moment lifts mood in Kenya

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Korir's Tokyo 2020 golden moment lifts mood in Kenya VCG

After waiting for ten days to get a first gold, Kenya finally got off the mark on Wednesday when Emmanuel Korir won the Tokyo 2020 men’s 800m final to give his nation the Olympics lift off that was fast appearing out of reach.

Korir clocked 1:45.06 to take the gold, with compatriot Ferguson Rotich second and Poland’s Patryk Dobek winning bronze, to become an instant sensation back home as a country that had starved for the top medal finally burst into celebration.

“I knew everyone was tough. My focus was to run the last 150m in case the pace was slow. No one was ready to take the cross in the first 400m. I said to myself let me try to push the last 100m to see whether I could make it,” Korir told Kenyan reporters after his triumph in Japan.

He admitted the pressure was on after the criticism leveled against Team Kenya in Japan ahead of his final as he called on his countrymen to tone down the backlash.

“It’s unfortunate that most of our guys back at home only support you when you win. But when you lose, they frustrate you, they start talking negative things, it’s not good,” he remarked on the stinging condemnation the class of Tokyo 2020 has received from Kenya.

The freshly minted Olympic champion is confident his victory will spark a belated gold rush from Kenya as the Tokyo 2020 Games draw to their conclusion on Sunday.

“I’m urging the Kenyans to be a little bit careful because they never know what will happen. I’m so happy and I hope this gold will inspire others to do their best,” Korir added.

Among those who paid glowing complements to the 26-year-old athlete was the giant that he succeeded as Olympic champion – world record holder David Rudisha – who was watching from home having failed to gain fitness in time to defend his title.

“Back to Kenya! We retained Gold in 4 straight Olympic Games in 800m men. Congratulations Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich,” the London 2012 and Rio 2016 champion exclaimed on social media.

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